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S/African gov’t appoints new SAA CEO

The South African government has appointed Phillip Saunders to lead the South African Airways' (SAA) as its chief executive officer…

The South African government has appointed Phillip Saunders to lead the South African Airways’ (SAA) as its chief executive officer on an interim basis as the airline goes through its recovery under the business rescue process.The Ministry of Public Enterprises announced on Tuesday that Saunders’s appointment follows a vote in favour of a business rescue plan for SAA which was passed on Tuesday during a meeting that the Business Rescue Practitioners (BRPs) convened for the cash-strapped SAA.

Saunders was at the International Air Transport Association before joining the SAA. During the vote, some 86 percent of creditors voted to support the business rescue plan for the state-owned airline.

“The ministry believes that the favourable vote is a much better outcome for creditors and SAA employees than liquidation.

“The government remains confident that the implementation of the business rescue plan will balance the rights and interests of all parties,” the ministry said.

According to the ministry, its priorities will now to give effect to funding commitments by government for the business rescue plan, and to appoint a new and reconfigured interim board for the SAA.

In supporting the plan, government has committed to mobilising the necessary resources to fund the transition, the ministry said.

This will include the voluntary severance packages as agreed with the unions, and meeting the minimum requirements of the labour and employment laws, it said.

 “The ministry hopes that a new SAA can reclaim market share, while fighting to compete more in the emerging market space – notwithstanding the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic that will constrain the aviation industry for some time into the future,” the ministry concluded.

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